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constitutional provision must undergo and re-undergo judicial construction. Already our Supreme Court in not less than 150 decisions bas construed the organic law of this state. Constitutional questions ought not to be lightly treated. They should be approached with deliberation, and only decided after great study and reflection. But such will be impossible if everything is to be bunched and dumped into a constitutional hopper.
Why is it that under our constitution our Legislature should be the only department of government discredited ? The candidates for the other departments are selected in identically the same manner; they are all chosen from the masses.
No class has a pre-emptive right to aspire to or hold office. There must be something in the environment of the legislative office that infests it with corruptive matter; and what is it? Is it not lobbyism? Is it not the presence of the members of the third house that impregnate with virose matter just enough susceptible regular members as to cast upon the whole Legislature the odium of being diseased.
The members of the lobby belong to two classes: Those of good intent and those of evil. The presence of the corrupting members oftimes make necessary the attendance of the other class. Bills are brought forth by lobbyists against the interests of corporations and private parties. They are not presented in good faith. Their purpose
is to blackmail. Thus the interests affected must be represented, so that it is not an uncommon thing for manufacturing, transportation, mining and banking corporations to keep trusty agents at the capitol during the whole session of the Legislature.
Our constitution contains a provision intended to operate against this evil; but unwittingly it was left to the Legislative Assembly to pass a law giving life to it, and this the Legislature has neglected to do, or, more correctly speaking, the law that it did enact is worse than nothing.
Members of the State Bar Association of Washington, in what manner can we better serve our state and uphold our constitution than undertaking to stamp out lobbyism. We are power when properly directed. The dangerous members of the third house, as a rule, are members of our profession. Then let us on all occasions denounce and hold in disrepute any lawyer who is willing to sell his ability and influence to the corruption of good government.
To begin with, let us condemn every judge who rides upon a pass. Let us not swallow that sugar-coated morsel that a man who can be influenced by so small a matter as a pass is unfit to be a judge; such is but the cunning of the devil. Let us say to our judges: “Your taking passes may not incline you toward their doners, but the masses think that it does:” They know that every day in the trial of cases influences less potential sway jurors and judges against parties and witnesses. When judges cease riding upon passes they will live within the spirit of our constitution; and then no longer will a Legislature, when appealed to for law against passes, point to our judges and say: • They do not deem the acceptance of favors wrong."
The day will come when the sentiment of the people will be ripe for decisive action against legislative corruption, and what greater honor can the members of our profession have than to be found in the foremost ranks fighting for purity of government.
That our constitution ought to be changed in some respects is probable. The inability of aliens and certain corporations in this state to hold land should be liberalized; that we should elect United States Senators by a vote of the people is now generally contended. But bow has our constitution been interpreted? We have already stated that its provisions have been many times considered by the court of dernier resort. Strange as it may seem, a man guilty of no crime has been found civilly dead in Olympia, and he was restored by the Supreme Court of the United States by having administered to him a small dose of due process of law. At the same place five wise men discovered a recipe for getting out of debt, and practically it read: “Take from what you owe what is due you, and mix in all stale demands.” But the worst feature of our court of last resort is its willingness to hear and determine made-up cases. Such was never contemplated by our constitution and it is plainly violated of its intent. It has a tendency to bring the Court into disrepute and lead our people to believe that it is a respector of parties litigant. Take for instance, the case of Dennis v. Moses. It was friendly, it was concocted, it was known to be so by the judges; it involved the validity of a law affecting the interests of a goodly portion of our people. Counsel of the Court's own selection were called into the case, argued it, and a decision was rendered wholly unsatisfactory to both the friends and enemies of the measure. The proceedings in relation to the building of a capitol at Olympia was somewhat of the same order; and a number of cases in which municipalities were interested might be mentioned. May we not hope that our Supreme Court will turn from such a dangerous course and be content to abide by our constitution.
Another matter must be noticed, and that was the law exempting five hundred dollars worth of personal property from taxation. That our constitution is broad in giving to the Legislature the right to exempt property from taxation must be admitted. The proviso is that the property of the United States and of the state, counties, school districts and other municipal corporations, and such other property as the Legislature may by general laws provide, shall be exempt from taxation. Almost coincident with the decision of our Supreme Court holding our exemption law as to taxation in. valid, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts held a law of that commonwealth, exempting the same amount of personal property, valid. But upon the whole but little fault can be found with the decision of our court of last resort in passing upon constitutional questions. Some of the decisions are elaborated and state new ideas in such a pleasing and forcible manner that they carry conviction.
Our judges have been remarkably free from partisan spirit, as a number of election cases well testify; and no one can discover from reading their decisions that they have been for or against the corporations. As a part of constitutional government they have acted their part well, as have our governors and most of the other state officers.
Under our constitution at one time we had a multiplicity of com. missions; they have disappeared or been amalgamated, much to the relief of taxpayers and to the great credit and honor of our state.
In conclusion, let lobbyism be wiped out, let our legislature be purified, let our judges disdain the acceptance of all favors, let but the desire of the masses for good and pure government be gratified, let all be of equality before the law, and the energies of our citizens will develop the varied bounties of nature within our borders, and Washington will advance to be the first in war, the first in peace, and the pride of the states of the Union.
THE LAW AND THE LABORER.
BY SAMUEL R. STERN, OF SPOKANE.
The committee assigning my subject did not limit me, so far as I am advised, to any branch of Law or Labor, nor any of the relations existing between the two, and I have, therefore, preferred to deal more particularly with two features of their relation which have occupied public attention to a considerable degree in recent years, and during a very recent period.
The Laborer bas for almost a century been the pet creature of the law. It would seem as if every possible law that could be devised in his interest by statesmen and labor agitators had been enacted, and yet each year brings some new statutes; some because they are needed, others because the politician has superceded the statesman.
The laboring element being so largely in the majority, the man who opposes the masses” is doomed politically, and frequently financially, and he who tries to protect capital and the employer is at once decried an enemy of mankind.
Many of the difficulties which have given birth to boycotts and strikes and their resultant evils, have come from an absolute breach of contract on the part of the employe, who apparently thought he could violate contracts which his employer could not.
From the day when it was said “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground,
» until the present day, breaches of express or implied contracts have, I believe, led to the greater part of our commercial and social troubles.
Even Christ recognized the fact, and preached the law of observance of contract, for He taught “So the last shall be first and the first last,
because of the dissatisfaction of the laborers who agreed to work for a penny a day, and then found fault because others who worked for a shorter time were to be paid an equal amount. When first employed the penny was ample payment, but the work. men in the vineyard became dissatisfied because others were to be equally well paid for less labor; and yet Christ said: “Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny ?”
For fear there may be others of the profession whose familiarity with this early authority was no greater than mine, before I recently searched for it, I append a citation:
Chapter xx, St. Matthew, Parable of the Laborers. As a matter of fact, I believe there is less cause for complaint on the part of the laboring man than is generally supposed. Many of the evils of which be complains are fancied; many created by unscrupulous men. Walking delegates and labor agitators are more responsible for labor troubles than infractions by the employer of moral, statute, or contract law.
We have given to the laborer too many beneficial laws. He has become a spoiled child; and those who curry favor with him pat him on the back and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” even when he fails to labor honestly but leads a strike, a boycott or a mob.
To accumulate wealth is, in the eye of many of those less fortunate, less willing or who have no ability to acquire it, thought to be a crime. Forgetful of the benefits bestowed by men of wealth, the laborer readily elects the man opposed to its acquisition. Such men generally make our labor laws.
The endowment of colleges, libraries, hospitals, asylums, where thousands are benefitted and the poor given an equal opportunity with the rich, does not in his eyes palliate the offense of wealthacquisition.
As illustrative of the solicitude of the legislatures of the various states and territories for the rights of the day laborer, we have the fact that every state and territory in the Union, with the exception of Indian Territory, has passed laws to protect him with respect especially to liens, and even in Indian Territory, so far as I am advised, down to last year, the laborer at least had a lien upon the product of his labor respecting personal property. Some of the states, how.